Friday, August 30, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: Russian Orthodox Church of St Elizabeth in Wiesbaden

Photo: Luxarazzi
The Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Elizabeth located on the Neroberg in Wiesbaden is one of the least known buildings in the history of the Nassau family. It was built between 1847 and 1855 in memory of Duchess Elisabeth of Nassau (*1826; † 1845), the first wife of (Grand) Duke Adolph and their unnamed daughter (*; † 1845).

Duchess Elisabeth was born as Grand Duchess Elisabeth Mikhailovna of Russia to Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich and Princess Charlotte of Württemberg, who became Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna upon her marriage. She was also the grand-daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia and the niece of tsars Alexander I and Nicholas I, her maternal aunt was Pauline of Württemberg, her husband's step-mother.

Elisabeth, who was called "Lili" by her family, grew up in St. Petersburg with her two surviving sisters, Maria and Ekaterina; two other sisters, Alexandra and Anna died as infants. Many of her contemporaries named her the most beautiful, well-mannered and best-educated of the three sisters. Elisabeth's outer appearance was described as healthy with a round face and a small mouth, dark red hair but blonde eyelashes.

In 1843, Duke Adolph of Nassau visited Russia and met Elisabeth. Contemporaries described their first meeting as love at first sight, and on September 3rd, 1843 the couple got privately engaged; two days later the Tsar officially announced the engagement in Russia and on September 8th the announcement was published in Biebrich, Nassau. In December 1843 their pre-nup was negotiated. (You can find the details of it in our post about Grand Duke Adolph.)

The wedding took place on January 31st, 1844 in St. Petersburg, the bride's hometown. Nothing is known about the her dress itself though it's clear that Elisabeth wore a tiara and a red velour coat with ermine lining and a long veil which was carried by four chamberlains and the crown equerry.

The couple left Russia on March 2nd, 1844 and the journey to the Duchy of Nassau took about three weeks. Elisabeth was warmly welcomed in the Duchy but she lived very secluded. She only did little charity work by herself though she supported many organizations financially, for example a school for underprivileged girls called Elisabethenschule. Another project was realized after her death by Adolph when he opened a hospital for underprivileged children, called Elisabethen-Heilanstalt, in 1846.

Sadly, the Duchess died at the age of 19 after giving birth to a stillborn daughter on January 28th, 1845, almost exactly one year after her marriage. Her husband was deeply shocked and devasted. After two years in mourning, he disposed that a Russian Orthodox Church was to be build in memory of Elisabeth and their daughter, and to bury them there. Adolph decided that the right place for the building would be the Neroberg (Mount Nero) in Wiesbaden because that way he could see the church from his castle in Wiesbaden city. The dowry paid by the Tsar at the wedding was used to finance the church.

The chapel shortly after
its completion
The Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Elizabeth is the only Russian Orthodox Church in Wiesbaden. The term “Greek Chapel” is also used to describe the Church, though it is not a Greek Orthodox Church. In Germany every Orthodox building, no matter if Russian or Greek, was termed as Greek Church or Greek Chapel in the 19th century. There is also a rectory and a cemetery, which was opened in 1856, next to the church. It is the largest Russian-Orthodox cemetery in Europe outside of Russia.

Even Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, the former Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt, visited the church once and took part in a worship. A golden badge inside the church remembers this occasion.

The church was built between 1847 and 1855 by the famous architect Philipp Hoffmann. He was known for his knowledge about sacral buildings and also built the Synagogue on the Michaelsberg and the Church of Saint Boniface, both in Wiesbaden. Hoffmann used the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, which was destroyed in the 1930s and rebuilt in the 1990s, as the inspiration for the Russian-Orthodox Church in Wiesbaden. He had visited Russia after he was invited by Grand Duchess Elena, Elisabeth’s mother, and got his knowledge about Russian sacral buildings and peculiarities during his stay.

The religious opening of the Church took place on May 25th, 1855 and the coffins of Elisabeth as well as her daughter were brought into the church under big support of the people of Wiesbaden, but without Adolph, during the following night.

Photo: Luxarazzi
The church is made of beige sandstone and is a so called cross-on-square church which means it is built in the traditional Russian Orthodox building canon. The ground plan is a square with an apse, a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault, on the northern side of the church. 

Five golden onion-shaped cupolas - four small ones and a big central one - with five golden Orthodox crosses on them build the roof of the church. Each of these cupolas has four - the small ones - or five - the big one - windows in it tower to let daylight inside the church. In advance to the visit of Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2007, the five golden domes were cleansed and newly gilded for about half a million euros.

The building has two entrances, the southern entrance and the western entrance. The south entrance was only to be used for the Tsar of Russia, and after Tsar Nicolai II was killed in 1917 it was closed forever. Today, the west entrance is used as the main entrance. 

Above the entrances you can find the sculptures of Saint Helena (patron saint of Elisabeth's mother), Archangel Michael (patron saint of Elisabeth's father) and Saint Elizabeth, to whom the church is dedicated. Elisabeth’s tomb was created by Emil Alexander Hopfgarten and is made of Carrara-marble. It shows a life-sized idealisation of Elisabeth.

Photos: Luxarazzi
The iconostasis of the curch was created by Carl Timoleon von Neff, a master of his art. He combined the tradition of Tsar Peter the Great with Western influences. He did not only create the iconostasis of St. Elizabeth in Wiesbaden but also of the Isaac Cathedral in St. Petersburg. 

Inside the church you can find iconostases of Jesus Christ, Archangel Michael, Saint Elizabeth, Saint Nicholas, Mother Mary with a child, Archangel Gabriel, Saint Helena and Saint Catherine. There are also iconostases of the last supper, Saint John, Saint Chryostomos, Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Vladimir, Saint Alexandra, Saint Basilius, Saint Anna, Saint Constantin and Saint George as well as of the apostles Peter and Paul and the evangelists John, Mark, Luke and Matthew.

The interiors of the church were renovated and restored during the 1990's, the crypt in the early 2000's.

There is also a Russian Orthodox cemetery next to the church. It is one of the oldest in Western Europe and was created in 1864, until 1977 it was extended for several times. On the cemetery there are many graves of Russian nobliliy who visited Wiesbaden, Bad Ems and other German areas in the 19th century to take a cure. In 2009 and 2010 the cemetery was partly restored.

Today the church is used for regular worhips of the parish of St. Elizabeth in Wiesbaden and the surrounding area. The parish is part of the diocese of Berlin in the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. You can also visit the church and the cemetery when there is no worship. On Saturday it will be one of the places visited by the Hereditary Grand Duke and the Hereditary Grand Duchess during their stay in Wiesbaden.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Busy Day for the Hereditary Prince

Photo: Brigitt Risch / Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
The diary of Hereditary Prince Alois was flooded with audiences today. During the first audience, he received three new ambassadors to Liechtenstein at Schloss Vaduz. The diplomats from Mexico, Uruguay and Montenegro handed over their letters of accreditation to the Hereditary Prince. For the second audience, he met with Günther Platter, governor of the Austrian state of Tyrol, who was on a visit to the Principality today. 1 FL TV has a video report (starting at 04:44) about the visit of the Tyrolian guest. To round off the day, Hereditary Prince Alois awarded Charly Dodet, founder and president of "Les Amis du Liechtenstein en Wallonie", with the Knight`s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Principality of Liechtenstein for his services to Liechtenstein and the Liechtenstein-Wallonian friendship. A picture is located at Volksblatt.

Source: IKR, Vaterland, IKR

Luxarazzi 101: Bürgergarde Weilburg

The main reason for the Hereditary Grand Duke's and Hereditary Grand Duchess' visit to Hesse, which is taking place this weekend, is the 200th anniversary of the Weilburger Bürgergarde which was founded on the occasion of the wedding of Duke Wilhelm of Nassau (1792-1839) and Princess Louise of Saxe-Hildburghausen (1794-1825), parents of (Grand) Duke Adolph in 1813.

   Grand Duke Henri taking the salute in 2012  
(Photo: Luxarazzi)
So what is the Weilburger Bürgergarde that has led (and is still leading) various members of the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg to the small town north-west of Frankfurt? While the German word Bürgergarde is often translated as militia into English, the best way to describe it probably is as a civil guard as its main role was as a guard of honour.

In advance to the aforementioned wedding of the then Hereditary Prince of Nassau-Weilburg and the daughter of Duke Friedrich of Saxe-Hildburghausen, later of Saxe-Altenburg (1763-1834) and his wife Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1769-1818), the town lieutenant of Weilburg had the idea to form a guard of honour to celebrate the happy occasion. His idea met with open ears in the Ducal Family and thus the citizens were asked to form a guard with a military order. Already before, similar organisations had existed but had been dissolved.

On June 26, the day of the domum deductio procession, the newly formed guard marched in front of the Landtor, one of the gateways to Schloss Weilburg, to honour the bridal couple. About two months later, on August 31, the state ministry declared the the Bürgergarde to be permanent upon the instruction of the Duke of Nassau. On the occasion, the guard was given 120 rifles by the Ducal House.

In 1814, the Bürgergarde became an independant unit and militia company of the Landsturm company though seven years later they seperated from the Landsturm and started to exist as a private institution with permanent right to exist granted by the state.

Reburial of Grand Duke Adolph
Photo: Bürgergarde Weilburg
During the revolution of 1848, the civil guard largely was replaced by an actual militia. After its end and the beginning of the restoration period, the Bürgergarde was reshaped under a new captain.

After the annexation of Nassau in 1866, King Wilhelm III of Prussia granted the Bürgergarde a new right to exist in same the form previously approved by the Ducal House of Nassau.

Already during a speech in 1848, Duke Adolph had described the special bond between the people of Weilburg and the branch of the House of Nassau by the same name, "Yet I cannot and will not believe that in spite of all new the old Weilburger haven't remained the same. The loyalty and allegiance of the people of Weilburg to their old dynasty have become proverbial in our country."

In the following years after the annexation by Prussia, the relations between the people of Weilburg and the ousted Ducal Family remained close. On the occasion of the 1000th anniversary of the town in 1906, Grand Duke Wilhelm IV visited Weilburg alongside Prince Eitel Friedrich of Prussia, son of Emperor Wilhelm II. During his visit, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and nominal Duke of Nassau gave a silver cup to the civil guard. In 1910, Wilhelm's wife and regent, Grand Duchess Maria-Ana, gifted the restored flag to the Bürgergarde.

During the funerals of Grand Duke Wilhelm IV in 1912 and his mother Grand Duchess Adelheid-Marie in 1916, the Weilburger Bürgergarde stood guard. Both of them were laid to rest in the chapel of Schloss Weilburg.

After the end of World War II, the American occupying forces prohibited the civil guard and all historical weapons and uniforms were burnt. A few years later, a citizen's association was founded and since 1959 they are a registered association. Only in 1966, the Bürgergarde received new riffles. To this day they are wearing expensive replicas of the historical uniforms.

The first major post-war event was the transfer of the remains of Grand Duke Adolph into the castle chapel in Weilburg in 1953. On the occasion, Grand Duke Jean and his siblings Prince Charles, Princess Elisabeth and Princess Marie-Adélaïde visited the home of their ancestors. To this day, the Bürgergarde stands guard for Nassau's last ruler on November 17, the day of his death.

Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess
Joséphine-Charlotte in Weilburg
(Photo: Weilburger Bürgergarde)
Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte visited Weilburg at least three times; in 1977 on a state visit, in 1990 together with Germany's president Richard von Weizäcker and in 1997. Since becoming head of state, Grand Duke Henri has visited the town at least twice. Together with Grand Duchess Maria Teresa and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume in 2005 to mark the centenary of Grand Duke Adolph's death and one more time accompanied only by his wife last year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Grand Duke Wilhelm IV.
Every time members of the Grand Ducal Family are on an official visit to Weilburg, the Bürgergarde is out in full force to form a guard of honour, which isn't too surprising considering that the reigning Grand Duke is always also the Duke of Nassau and thus colonel-in-cief of the civil guard. If a new captain is chosen, the Grand Duke is notified and over the years many members of the Bürgergarde have received the Luxembourgish Civil and Military Order of Merit of Adolphe of Nassau. The celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the guard takes place under the patronage of no other than the Grand Duke himself.

As you can see, by visiting the ancestral home of their branch of the House of Nassau, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie, who are also the Hereditary Prince and Hereditary Princess of Nassau, follow the footsteps set by many other family members.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

About American Visitors, Weddings and More

From August 24 to 27, American congressional staff visited Liechtenstein to get to know the country and to talk finances and trade. Among other things, the three republican and two democratic congress workers were invited for an audience with the Hereditary Prince at Schloss Vaduz.

Today Hereditary Prince Alois welcomed Liechtenstein's Worldskills team at the Schloss.

Photo: Romina Amato/Reuters
Meanwhile, the LGT Group, the banking and asset management group owned by the Princely Family, has published its half-year report. While not everything looks rosy, Prince Max, the CEO, is happy with the outcome or as he phrases it, "We are satisfied with the business trend in the first half of 2013. Crucially, we were able to reinforce the performance achieved in our core Private Banking and Asset Management businesses in 2012 and make further headway. We are particularly pleased that we are very attractive to clients – and to qualified relationship managers, too – and enjoy considerable trust, as the sustained strong inflows in all regions show. We are very optimistic about the future. We also see good opportunities for growth in Europe, particularly if the issues with regard to future cross-border regulatory standards can be resolved. This will create legal certainty for all market participants."

In a bit of advance news, it seems likely that some of the rarely seen members of the Princely Family, namely Prince Rudolf and Princess Tılsım, will attend the wedding of Prince Muhammad Ali of Egypt, oldest son of the last King of Egypt Fuad II, and Princess Noal Zaher, granddaughter of the late King Zaher Shah of Afghanistan. It seems that the bridal couple met last year at the wedding of the youngest son of Prince Philipp and his Turkish-born wife. Prince Muhammad Ali and Princess Noal will tie the knot on Friday in Istanbul. It remains to be seen whether the Liechtenstein guests will be recognised by the photographers as Prince Rudolf has always flown under the radar, even more than the rest of his family.

Source: IKR, LGT Group, Hola

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: The Duchy of Nassau (1806 - 1866)

With today's post we can kill two three birds with one stone... On the one hand, it will serve as an introduction of a new sub-series of our 101 posts called "Tracing the Nassau Roots: The Grand Ducal Family's German Ancestry" in which we will discover the history of the family as well as important buildings related to them, and on the other hand, it will introduce you to the area where the civil nuptials of Prince Félix and Claire Lademacher will take place later this year. The family of the German heiress might come from an area west of Cologne and Mademoiselle Lademacher might have been born in Filderstadt south of Stuttgart, but she grew up in an area that is historically very much linked to her husband's family. On the figurative third hand, it also gives you some background information on this weekend's visit to Limburg, Wiesbaden, Weilburg and Nassau by the Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple.

The Grand Duke's style and full title: His Royal Highness Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Count of Sayn, Königstein, Katzenelnbogen and Diez, Burgrave of Hammerstein, Lord of Mahlberg, Wiesbaden, Idstein, Merenberg, Limburg and Eppstein, Prince de Bourbon de Parme. If you look up many of those places, you will notice that most of them lie in today's German states of Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate. One of them, Königstein in case you don't remember, actually is the place of September's civil wedding and the Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple will visit some of them this weekend.
The Duchy of Nassau within the German Confederation in 1815
The Duchy of Nassau was founded on August 30, 1806 as a part of the Confederation of the Rhine under Napoleon's protection after the two of the last remaining three branches of the House of Nassau, Nassau-Usingen and Nassau-Weilburg, had to merge under Napoleon's pressure to hold their houses independencies; before, on July 17, 1806, both states had become part of the Confederation as two independent parts.

The merger of territories ruled by the two branches of the House of Nassau did not propose such a big problem insofar as Prince Friedrich August of Nassau-Usingen did not have any direct male heir and his cousin Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Nassau-Weilburg would have inherited the territories of the Usingen branch anyway.

It was agreed that Friedrich August would become the Duke of the newly erected Duchy of Nassau and his cousin Friedrich Wilhelm, who was 30 years his junior, his heir. Until then, Friedrich Wilhelm was to be styled as the Prince of Nassau. He, however, never ascended to the throne as he died two months before Friedrich August when he fell down the stairs at Schloss Weilburg and thus his oldest son, Wilhelm, became the first Duke of Nassau of the House of Nassau-Weilburg when Friedrich August died in 1816.

The Duchy 1816 - 1866
The Duchy of Nassau was formed out of about 20 independent parts and territories which the two branches of the House received as compensation after the War of the First Coalition. For the first ten years of its existence, the Duchy had two capitals, Weilburg and Wiesbaden. The new country reached its final size in 1815 when the Congress of Vienna created the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Orange-Nassau branch of the family became its new ruler. In turn, they had to give their German ancestral territory, the County of Nassau-Diez, to Prussia who handed parts of it over to the new Duchy of Nassau. (On a sidenote, the new King of the Netherlands received the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to be ruled in personal union as a compensation for his losses.)

Both the Duchy of Nassau and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (though not the United Kingdom of the Netherlands) joined the new German Confederation which replaced the ancient Holy Roman Empire which had existed since 962 as independent states.

During the first few years of its existence, the Duchy of Nassau experienced an era of reform which included the very first modern constitution of any German state as well as the first comprehensive health care system. Some of the changes, especially in relation to civil rights and liberties, were, however, reduced during the restoration phase following the Congress of Vienna.

When Duke Wilhelm died in 1839, his oldest son Adolph, just 22 at the time, succeeded him on the throne. Two years later, the young Duke moved his primary residence to the Stadtschloss in Wiesbaden. He did not play a major political role in the Duchy for most of his early life. He, however, was the first German head of state to address his subjects during the revolutions of 1848.

On March 1, the citizens of Nassau, under the leadership of the liberal politician August Hergenhahn, published the famous Neun Forderungen der Nassauer (roughly translated as the nine demands of the people of Nassau) demanding for the arming of the people, freedom of the press, calling of a German parliament, the army to take an oath on the constitution, freedom of association, public trials by jury, the crown lands to become state property, voting rights for all citizens and freedom of religion. A day later, they handed them over to the minister of state, Baron Emil August von Dungern.

The Stadtschloss in Wiesbaden
(Photo: Luxarazzi)
The demands spread rapidly throughout the Duchy and two days later, on March 4, about 30,000 to 40,000 people, roughly one third of the male population of Nassau, gathered in front of the Stadtschloss, Duke Adolph's residence, to enforce their demands. While the population of Wiesbaden and other towns actually wanted more civil rights and liberties, it was more important for the rural population that the remains of the feudal system would be abolished and the game and forestry laws would be relaxed. Under the pressure of his citizens, Duke Adolph granted them all nine rights from the balcony of his residence that night.

The revolution, however, did not only have positive effects for the people of Nassau as it turned out to be quite chaotic, especially in rural areas where many officials had lost their positions and as a result there was no functioning administrative systems. The people reacted by founding militias. During that period of time August Hergenhahn managed to earn the trust of Duke Adolph and on April 16 he became the new minister-president. Under his leadership a few modern laws were introduced.

Soon after the revolution all the things the people had fought for soon faded away again. The parties in the parliament as well as the government fought about the veto right of the Duke so much that their dispute electrified the population who went out into the street again. The minister president even had to call in Austrian and Prussian troops to calm down the situation again. Due to the introduction of press freedom a big number of new newspapers had emerged but many had to close down again after a few months, both due to low sale figures as well as re-introduced repression. By the end of 1849, the censorship of the press was in full force again. At the time, the era of restauration had started and during the following years Duke Adolph, with the help of new conservative governments, reversed most of the progressive laws.

Photo: Luxarazzi
During the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Nassau fought opposite Austria against Prussia. Unfortunately for the Duchy, Austria lost and as a result Nassau was annexed by Prussia on October 5, 1866. The annexion was proclaimed in Wiesbaden on October 9. There was only little resistance in Nassau and Adolph and his family left the country to live in Austria and later Bavaria. 

Even though the people of Nassau accepted to be a part of Prussia many of them still felt as 'Nassauer' (inhabitants of Nassau). This feeling was shown by many clubs and foundations which tried to uphold traditions and erected monuments in memory of Adolph and the ducal family, the most famous of which is the Landesdenkmal in Wiesbaden unveiled in 1909 and dedicated "to the Nassau dynasty with all our love and devotion, the grateful people".

Hiking in Liechtenstein

Photo: 1 FL TV
Once a year, members of the Princely Family go hiking with Liechtenstein's current and former mayor and heads of the municipalities. The tradition goes back many years when Princess Gina, the late mother of Prince Hans-Adam II, and one of the mayors had the idea. Either the Princely or the Hereditary Princely couple is up for the job, this year it was the latter one.

After a church service was celebrated in Nendeln, Hereditary Prince Alois, Hereditary Princess Sophie as well as their entourage of current and former mayors and partners viewed a Roman excavation site in the morning and after lunch went to Eschen where they hiked a little more and also had dinner together.

Both a short (starting at 3:50) and a long video including interviews with both the Hereditary Prince and the Hereditary Princess are available at 1 FL TV.

Source: 1 FL TV

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to the Nassau Roots

It seems that we aren't the only ones who are going to discover the Nassau roots of the Grand Ducal Family this summer(*)... While it has been known that the Hereditary Grand Duke and the Hereditary Grand Duchess are to visit Weilburg on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Weilburger Bürgergarde for months, the cour took me (and likely also you) by surprise today by releasing an itinerary for a three day visit to the German state of Hesse.

The first day will lead Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie to Limburg an der Lahn. In the picturesque town located in the old Duchy of Nassau, the couple will be welcomed by mayor Martin Richard and bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst at the Saint George’s Cathedral located high above the city. At the cathedral they will view the Domschatz (roughly translated as cathedral treasure) as well as the Diocese museum and hear a concert by a local choir. The day will be rounded of with a stroll through the historic centre of the town.

The Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple will spent the morning of their second day in Wiesbaden, old capital of the Duchy of Nassau. To start the day, they will be welcomed by the Minister-President of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, and sign the golden book of the town. Afterwards, they will pay visits to the Nassauisches Landesdenkmal, a statue of Grand Duke Adolph dedicated to the Nassau family, Schloss Biebrich, former residence of the family, and the Russian-Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Elizabeth, built by Grand Duke Adolph for his first wife who died shortly after the birth of their only child.

In the afternoon, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie and their entourage will make their way to Weilburg where they will be welcomed by the local major, Hans-Peter Schick, and participate in the afternoon festivities of the anniversary of the Weilburger Bürgergarde as well as meet local residents.

Day three will lead the couple to Nassau, a small town of 5,000 people and name giver of almost all the Nassaus in this world (except for one, located in Saxony). After the obligatory meeting with the mayor, Armin Wenzel in this case, and the signing of the golden book, they will visit the local castle which gave its name to the House of Nassau.

* I know, I know, we haven't done so yet but brace yourself as we will throwing Nassau information at you left and right in the days to come in case news hell doesn't break loose.

Bits and Pieces

As we are still in our summer slump, we are going to branch out a little to cover all kinds of interesting bits and pieces related to the Grand Ducal and Princely families.

Eléonore de Potesta, granddaughter of Princess Elisabeth of Luxembourg, deceased sister of Grand Duke Jean, and her husband Diego Fernández de Córdova y Cerveró recently welcomed their first child. The baby boy named Rafael was born on August 9.

On a similar note, Princess Amélia de Orléans e Bragança, a granddaughter of another sister of Grand Duke Jean, Princess Alix, announced her engagement to James Spearman about a month ago. The oldest daughter of Prince António de Orléans e Bragança, third in line to the non-existent Brazilian throne, and his wife née Princess Christine de Ligne is likely going to marry in Brazil, hopefully with a bunch of Luxembourg cousins in attendance.

On August 14, Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla visited the French town of Angoulême and its surroundings. While there, they, among other things, paid visits to the Musée de la Bande dessinée, the Château de Dampierre, and a private chapel at the Bardines cemetery in Saint-Yrieix which belongs to Princess Sibilla's family.

Last Friday, Prince Stefan, fifth cousin once removed of Prince Hans-Adam II and Liechtenstein's ambassador to Germany, welcomed three scouts at the country's Berlin embassy. The three delegates of the country's scouting association attended the 14th European Guide Conference, the 21st European Scout Conference and the 14th European Guide and Scout Conference respectively over the week. A picture of the group of four sitting on a dresser can be found at Volksblatt.

Source: Carnet Mondain, The Times, Sud Ouest, Volksblatt

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: Grand Duke Wilhelm IV

When Hereditary Prince Wilhelm Alexander (*) of Nassau was born on 22 April 1852 at Schloss Biebrich in the German state of Nassau, nobody expected him to one day be the ruler of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Born as the first child of Duke Adolph of Nassau and his second wife, née Princess Adelheid-Marie of Anhalt-Dessau, he had four younger siblings of whom only one, Princess Hilda, lived to adulthood.

[We'll conveniently only use the German version of his name because that is the name he was christened with. Of course, you can also refer to him as William (in English), Guillaume (in French), Wëllem (in Luxembourgish), or any other version of the name in any language you know. The same applies for the names of all other family members; so his father is Adolph and not Adolphe, his mother is Adelheid-Marie and not Adélaïde-Marie, and his wife Maria-Ana and not Marie-Anne.]

Not too much is known about Prince Wilhelm's early education. While the family still ruled the Duchy of Nassau, he was educated according to the curricula of the Weilburger Gymnasium, the local secondary school, much like his father had been. When Nassau was annexed by Prussia in 1866, Duke Adolph and Duchess Adelheid-Marie and their three surviving children, Wilhelm, Franz and Hilda, had to leave the Duchy. After moving around a lot during the first few years, they eventually settled in Bavaria.

After finishing his school education, Prince Wilhelm enrolled in the cadet school in Dresden in the Kingdom of Saxony where he received his officers' training. (A step followed by his younger brother, Prince Franz, a few years later. The younger prince died of scarlet fever during his time in Dresden while visiting his family in Vienna.) 

In 1871, Prince Wilhelm became part of the Austro-Hungarian army by joining the prestigious K.u.k. Husaren-Regiment „Kaiser“ Nr. 1. The military would have probably been the prince's career if it hadn't been for a few untimely deaths in the the House of Orange-Nassau, a junior branch of the House of Nassau, reigning in the Kingdom of the Netherlands as well as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

When Alexander, Prince of Orange, the third and only surviving son of King-Grand Duke Willem III, died in 1884, there was no male heir left in the House of Orange-Nassau. While this wasn't so much of a problem in the Netherlands as females were allowed to inherit the throne, it posed a problem in Luxembourg. Based upon the Nassauischer Erbverein, the family pact of the Nassaus, the senior Weilburg branch of the House of Nassau was to inherit the Grand Duchy. And so, in 1888 when it became obvious that Duke Adolph would become the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Prince Wilhelm quit the service in the Austrian army.

Wilhelm and Maria-Ana
in 1893
Some time during the early 1880's, Prince Wilhelm had been introduced to Infanta Maria-Ana of Portugal, daughter of the deposed king Miguel I of Portugal and his consort Princess Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg. It is believed that they couple first met at Schloss Tegernsee in Bavaria through Duke Karl-Theodor in Bavaria, brother of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who was married to Infanta Maria-José of Portugal, an older sister of Infanta Maria-Ana.

While in today's day and age every noble family would probably be delirious with joy about such a union, there were black clouds over the couple's bliss. Already in 1884, Prince Wilhelm had asked his father for consent to marry the Catholic infanta but Duke Adolph had refused due to religious differences; the Nassau family were fervent Lutherans after all. It took many years until the lovers were finally allowed to tie the knot.

Even though other possible wives were suggested to Prince Wilhelm, he refused to marry any of them and only when Duke Adolph became the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, he warmed up about his son's choice. The Grand Duchy had been and remains to this day a mostly Catholic country, so the prospect of a Catholic wife for the heir wasn't as unthinkable anymore.

On 21 June 1893, Prince Wilhelm and Infanta Maria-Ana were finally allowed to marry after Duke Adolph gave his consent and Pope Leo XIII granted the necessary dispensation for a Catholic to marry a Protestant. The couple tied the knot at Schloss Fischhorn near Zell am See in Austria, at the time owned by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. They were married by the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg and afterwards were blessed by a Lutheran priest.

Wilhelm and Maria-Ana with
their four eldest daughters
In their marriage contract it was agreed that sons would be raised in their father's Lutheran faith, while daughters would become Catholics like their mother. Nobody probably expected that the couple would not have any male offspring - instead they had six daughters, Marie-Adélaïde (1894-1924), Charlotte (1896-1985), Hilda (1897-1979), Antonia (1899-1954), Elisabeth (1901-50), Sophie (1902-41) - and that the Grand Ducal Family was bound to become a Catholic family in the next generation.

Already in 1890 when his father had ascended to the Luxembourgish throne, Prince Wilhelm of Nassau had become the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Between 25 December 1897 and 2 April 1902, he was a member of the Council of State. Two days later, the Hereditary Grand Duke became lieutenant-representative for his father. After Grand Duke Adolph's death in 1905, Wilhelm succeeded him on the throne as Grand Duke Wilhelm IV, or Grand Duke Guillaume IV, or Grand Duke Wëllem IV, or Grand Duke William IV - you get what we said about the names earlier on...

Grand Duke Wilhelm IV and Grand Duchess Maria-Ana had moved into the Château de Berg shortly after their wedding and five of their six daughters were born in Luxembourg. They, however, spent most of the summer and early fall months at Schloss Hohenberg in Bavaria. When the castle in Colmar-Berg was demolised to be rebuilt according to suggestions of Grand Duke Wilhelm IV in 1906, the family moved to Bavaria fulltime.

Even though the early childhood of their daughters is described as happy and carefree, their happiness, however, wasn't unalloyed. Already in 1898, Grand Duke Wilhelm IV had suffered from a brain haemorrhage and he never fully recovered. Over the years, it developed into cerebral embolism including strong signs of paralysis. For this reason, the move to Bavaria had also been encouraged by the government in the hope that a change of air would strengthen the Grand Duke.

Wilhelm as Grand Duke
Having fathered six daughters but no son, Grand Duke William IV declared his cousin Count Georg Nikolaus of Merenberg, the only other living legitimate male in the House of Nassau though product of a morganatic marriage, to be non-dynastic and named his oldest daughter, Princess Marie-Adélaïde as his heiress-presumptive. (We'll have a closer look at the matter in one of our upcoming posts about Luxembourg's first female ruler.)

By the beginning of 1908, the medical condition of the Grand Duke had deteriorated so much that he appointed his wife, Grand Duchess Maria-Ana, as his lieutenant-representative on 19 March. In November that same year, his health had worsened even more and representatives of the Luxembourgish government made their way to Bavaria to determine his inability to rule and to make Grand Duchess Maria-Ana his regent after his mother, Grand Duchess Adelheid-Marie, had renounced her rights as, according to the laws, she would have needed to conduct any regency for him. On 19 November, Grand Duchess Maria-Ana took an oath on the constitution in front of the Luxembourgish delegation, her daughters and her mother-in-law. All acts that required a male person were carried out by Grand Duke Friedrich II of Baden, husband of Wilhelm's sister Hilda.

Grand Duchess Maria-Ana tenderly cared for her sick husband, for whom she had needed to wait for nine years before finally tying the knot, daily. All of their daughters were incorporated into the care for their father, though it was especially the oldest, Princess Marie-Adélaïde, who helped her mother a lot.

Wilhelm's coffin at the
castle church in Weilburg
(Photo: Luxarazzi)
In September 1911, the family moved back to Luxembourg and only a few months later, in the morning hours of 25 February 1912, the condition of the Grand Duke deteriorated once again and he now also suffered from heart trouble. His family gathered around his bed and Grand Duke Wilhelm IV passed away that night at 6:35pm. He was the last Luxembourgish Grand Duke to die in office. He was succeeded by his oldest daughter, now Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde, who wasn't yet of age so that her mother served as regent until 18 June, her 18th birthday.

After his death, Grand Duke Wilhelm IV laid in state at the palais grand-ducal and some 15,000 people paid their last respects. On 1 March, the Grand Duke's body was brought to Weilburg in the former state of Nassau where he was laid to rest in the church of Schloss Weilburg.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Addition to the Lannoy Family

As it has been a slow news kind of summer Luxembourg-wise, here a little side note about the Lannoy family. 

Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie became an aunt once again recently as her brother Count Olivier de Lannoy and his wife Alice, née van Havre, had a little boy named Gustave. He is the couple's second child. Countess Alice played a prominent role during the religious wedding of Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume as she read the intercession in Dutch.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

P.S. Pictures, Videos and More ****

Photo: Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
A few days ago was Liechtenstein's national day and as there weren't a whole lot of links to pictures and videos available at first, here are a few more of the act of state, party in the rose gardens of the castle, as well as the public festival with 35,000 visitors held in Vaduz. Members of the Princely Family, sometimes rather incognito (Hi there, Georg and Nikolaus in the third picture above!), can be seen giving interviews, taking pictures and generally mingling with the crowds during the public celebration held during the afternoon and evening hours. In the evening there are also the mountain top fires and fireworks.

Vaterland has pictures of the state ceremony and Apéro as well as the fair and fireworks. While Volksblatt has a joined gallery of all the events, Seeger Press offers pictures of the morning celebrations. Vorarlberg Online also has a gallery of visuals. The most pictures can be found at Exclusiv, they have galleries of the state ceremony, the walk from and to the castle, the party in the rose gardens, the Prince and his regent posing in front of the castle, the Family (and politicians) giving interviews, the fair in Vaduz, the illuminated town and the fireworks.
Photos: Exclusiv
Swiss SRF has a short report about the state ceremony on the castle meadow including an interview with Prince Hans-Adam II, as does Austrian ORF including interviews with the Prince and the Hereditary Prince. 1 FL TV used to have two videos including interviews with the Hereditary Prince and the Princess of the state ceremony and the subsequent party in the rose gardens but for some reason they were removed from their website. Links will follow in case they are uploaded again. Until then, check out their news programme which includes the highlights of the day and an interview with Hereditary Prince Alois, as well as a two part programme about the state ceremony. In addition they have a long interview video including statements by Prince Hans-Adam (at the beginning), Princess Maria-Pia (at 3:48, 10:50 and 19:46), Hereditary Princess Sophie (at 6:12 and 21:46) and Prince Wenzel (at 9:22 and 24:58). Towards the end of this video, you can see members of the Family mingling with the people at the fair.

A transcript of the speech of the Hereditary Prince is available on the website of the IKR, while an audio of the entire thing can be found at Radio Liechtenstein.

On a national day-related note, the Vaterland Magazin including a long interview with Hereditary Prince Alois is now available online. In the interview he talks about many topics related to the current situation of the Principality and its future. Probably most interesting for all interested in the Princely Family the Hereditary Prince tells that his oldest son, Prince Joseph Wenzel, who turned 18 earlier this year, will take a more active role in the future and accompany him to political meetings whenever time allows (as Wenzel is still in school).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hereditary Prince (Not) Knighted

Photo: Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
Nah, not really. But it does look a little bit like that, doesn't it? Sword et al? Though he's not kneeling which speaks against a possible knighthood. So instead, the Liechtenstein branch of the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs celebrated its 30th anniversary in style. On the occasion the "International Association of Gastronomy (...) bringing together enthusiasts who share the same values of quality, fine dining, the encouragement of the culinary arts and the pleasures of the table" (according to themselves) made Hereditary Prince Alois an honorary member of their club of food lovers yesterday.

Source: Vaterland

Friday, August 16, 2013

Feast of the Assumption of Mary

While Liechtenstein celebrated its National and India its Independence Day yesterday, August 15 is probably most commonly known as the Feast of the Assumption as it is celebrated by the Catholic Church on exactly that day. 

As more than three quarters of the population of Liechtenstein are Roman Catholics, it doesn't come as a surprise that there also were church services held all over the country despite it also being the Principality's national day yesterday. One of those services, the one at the St. Florin cathedral in Vaduz to be exact, was also attended by members of the Princely Family, namely Prince Nikolaus, brother of Prince Hans-Adam II and husband of Princess Margaretha of Luxembourg, and Prince Stefan, the former's fifth cousin once removed and Liechtenstein's ambassador to Germany.

Source: Vaterland

Thursday, August 15, 2013

National Day in Liechtenstein **

If you (like me) ever thought that finding news and pictures of the events of the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg is hard, think again... Today what looked like the entire population of the Principality of Liechtenstein, all approximately 36,713 of them, were on holiday to celebrate their Staatsfeiertag or Fürstenfest but until now (eight hours after its official beginning) there aren't a whole lot of visuals available but here we go anyway.

Photos: Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
So far I have spied quite a force of members of the Princely Family in attendance for the state ceremony held on the castle meadow next to Schloss Vaduz which traditionally kicks off the national day celebrations: Prince Hans-Adam II and Princess Marie, Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie with their children Prince Wenzel, Princess Marie-Caroline, Prince Georg and Prince Nikolaus, Prince Constantin and Princess Marie with their children Prince Moritz, Princess Georgina and Prince Benedikt as well as Prince Nikolaus, Prince Michael, Prince Stefan and Maria-Pia Kothbauer, Princess of Liechtenstein from the extended family. Also present were Princess Marie's parents, Count Alois Kálnoky de Kőröspatak and Countess Lindi. (In case you aren't entirely sure who is just talked about, check out our Who's Who page.)

During the course of the act of state, both the president of the parliament as well as the Hereditary Prince, who is his father's regent, held speeches. An audio of the latter's speech, in which he talked matters of state and the future of Liechtenstein, is available at Radio Liechtenstein. Articles which will tell you about what he talked exactly are available at Vaterland, Volksblatt and Le Figaro.

Photos: Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
After the official celebrations are over, the Prince and Princess traditionally invite the people of Liechtenstein, and everyone else who wants to join them, into the rose gardens of Schloss Vaduz. During the Apéro, a special kind of Liechtenstein/Swiss aperitif party with free drinks, everyone can mingle and have a beer with the Princely Family (provided they beat the other 2000 people in attendance to it).

Pictures of both events can be found at Vaterland and Seeger Press.

Swiss SRF has a news report (starting at 16:27) about the day including an interview with Prince Hans-Adam II and 1 FL TV offers interviews with Princess Marie and Hereditary Prince Alois.

For more pictures and videos, have a look at our recent post P.S. Pictures, Videos and More!

Source: Vaterland

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Luxarazzi in Luxembourg

Photo: LCTO
Every year during the Luxembourgish summer holidays the cour opens its doors and interested visitors are able to visit the Palais grand-ducal in Luxembourg-City. This year, Luxarazzi was one of them. The guided tour lasts between 30 and 45 minutes and is available in Luxembourgish, French, German, Dutch and English. The entrance fee for adults is seven euros, children pay half of it. All proceeds go to the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de la Grand-Duchesse.

Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures during the tour, nor is there a catalogue with further details and/or pictures available. The only written information you can get is a flyer in French, German and English published by the Luxembourg City Tourist Office (LCTO).

The Palais grand-ducal is used as the official residence of the monarch since 1815, when the new King of the Netherlands was also made Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

If you visit the palace today you can see a lot of memorabilia of Luxembourg’s moving past in it. Not only do all reigning Grand Dukes and Duchesses as well as their spouses from Adolph and Marie-Adelheid onwards look at you, but also the rich interior with hundreds of furniture, chandeliers, paintings, carpets and china represent the history of the family and the country quite remarkably.

The tour starts at the back of the palace in the Rue du Rost. This is a side entrance normally used by the Grand Ducal staff and suppliers. The Grand Ducal family, the members of the Chamber of Deputies and official guests always enter the palace from main entrance on the opposite side of the palace (the one always seen on tv and pictures).

Photo: LCTO
The first saloon you see inside the building is the so called “Salle de la Balance” (“The Balance saloon”). Originally “The Balance” was an independent building on the right side of the palace which was erected between 1741 and 1743. When the palace was enlarged between 1891 and 1894, it was included into the new building complex.

After that you cross the artrium and enter the entrance hall of the palace with its famous “Escaliers d’honneur” (“stairs of honour”). Traditionally, the first photo-call and introduction of the fiancée of the Hereditary Grand Duke takes place here. Next you see the “Salle d’armes” which is used as an official living and meeting room (and not very cosy in my opinion ;-)).

The tour continues upstairs. It’s quite an impressive feeling when you walk up the “Escaliers d’honneur” and enter the “Hall d’honneur” (“Hall of honour”). From here you can enter all official rooms on the first floor in a direct way. Opposite the stairs, there is the “Salle des fêtes” (“Celebration Hall”), a large room where smaller occasions take place. The next two rooms are the “Salon rose” (“Red saloon”) and the “Salon des Rois” (“King's saloon”). As the names already suggest, the first one is red while the second one has, in the past, only been used by the monarch to welcome foreign sovereigns. The second to last room is the “Galerie des gravures” (“Engraving gallery”) in which you see plenty of engravings, paintings and other objects of art. These pieces are part of the Grand Ducal collection. The last room of the tour is the “Salle à manger” (“Dining room”) in which official dinners take place.
This year a special bonus was given to the visitors as the Hereditary Grand-Duchess' wedding dress is exhibited during the tour. I was pretty excited to see it because I thought that Stephanie looked stunning on her wedding day. To be honest I was quite disappointed when I saw it in real life. The dress didn't look as beautiful and shiny on the dummy as it looked on Hereditary Grand-Duchess Stephanie.

The Luxembourgish parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, which has been situated right next to the palace since 1858/59, can’t be visited during the tour. You also cannot visit the left wing of the palace which is the oldest still existing part of the original town hall built in 1418. It was rebuilt in 1573 after a gunpowder explosion in 1554.

All in all the palais is worth visiting. Not only for people who are interested in the Grand Ducal family or Luxembourg but also for people who are generally interested in arts, architecture and history.

For more information about the palais in general and its history, check out our Luxarazzi 101 post about it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

It's a Boy!

Not necessarily Luxembourg or Liechtenstein related news but as I know that there are many royal watchers who will be interested anyway...

This morning, Princess Xenia Galitzine, oldest child and daughter of Prince Piotr Galitzine and Archduchess Maria-Anna of Austria, and her husband Alberto Matta Maya had their second child, a boy named Damian. The baby brother for Lidia was born in Houston, Texas, United States, where Princess Xenia's family lives.

By the way, it's not totally unrelated news though because there are many close ties between the Galitzine family and both the Liechtenstein and Luxembourg families. The Galitzine's lived in Luxembourg for a couple of years and Archduchess Maria-Anna is a godmother to Princess Alexandra. In addition, Princess Xenia is good friends with Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie. Prince Hans-Adam II and Princess Marie were among the guests for second-time parents' nuptials.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

About Pie Distribution in Liechtenstein

Photo: Elma Korac / Liechtensteiner
Vaterland /
It seems that it wasn't only Prince Hans-Adam II's turn to give an interview ahead of National Day but also that of his son. Hereditary Prince Alois, who has been his father's regent for a couple of years, gave an interview to Liechtenstein's other big newspaper, Liechtensteiner Vaterland, in which he talks about a lot of pie. No, not what you think. (Or what I think that you think.)

In the interview, the Hereditary Prince claims that "only if we are baking smaller pies* now, we will be able to bake any pies and distribute them in the future" adding that "there's always a battle for a share of the pie, no matter how big it is and how much can be distributed. In the past few years, we were able to give large pieces of pie per capita by comparison to other countries and we were able to afford things that others could only dream of." (Whew, that's a lot of pie for one interview, it seems that someone likes a good figure of speech.)

Breaking it down, even Liechtenstein, one of the richest countries in the world, has to be pennywise these days in order to restructure their state budget. Higher taxes and an increase of the health insurance contributions are to come. "In the future, we will need to bake smaller pies. I hope that the population understands that."

The entire interview will be published in the print edition of the newspaper next week ahead of the national holiday.

[* That's the German-language proverbial take on eating the English humble pie.]

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions

You might have noticed that we pulled our FAQ section from the blog way back when we introduced the Princely Family as new players to the blog as not only it needed new answers in relation to the Liechtenstein's but also updates on the answers about the Grand Ducal Family. As not even Rome was built in a day, it took as a good while (and a summer news drought) to finally get ourselves to do the task.

After wading through decrees as well as hours of debating about the wording of such decrees and house laws, we proudly present our updated FAQ section that found its way back on the blog today. It answers all kinds of questions and corrects often-made mistakes regarding the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg and the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. If you have any additional questions, just drop us a line and we will do our best to answer it.

As not even we are perfect - bummer, I know - it's entirely possible that we, despite our best intentions and much research, have made a mistake or simply misinterpreteted parts of a decree or law (we are no legal experts after all). In case you find such a mistake or misinterpretation, let us know.

Go, check out the FAQ and brush up your knowledge about the Princely and Grand Ducal families right >>here<< (or via the tabs beneath the header).

Prince of Liechtenstein Gives Interview

Ahead of Liechtenstein's National Day which will take place of August 15 (Come back on the weekend to learn more about it!), Prince Hans-Adam II has given an interview to the Liechtensteiner Volksblatt, one of the country's major newspapers. 

In the interview, the Prince talks about the outcome of the elections earlier this year (the addition of a fourth party to the parliament has made work more difficult but also more lively), the non-sell-off of Telecom Liechtenstein (it was a mistake of the parliament to vote against a sale of the telecom operator to Swisscom despite the wish of the government to do so as he believes privatisation to be the better way) and the introduction of an automatic information exchange with other countries regarding banking information (it will be less work for Liechtenstein's banks as they won't need to check anymore whether foreign clients have paid their taxes but instead the home countries of the clients will need to do so themselves in the future).

Source: Volksblatt